Operation Surf - Changing Lives One Wave at a Time

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Veterans Day is this Sunday, and since we’re fortunate to have a fair number of veterans as customers, it’s fitting that we honor those who have served - and are serving - in our military.

In 1938, Congress declared November 11 of each year a legal holiday to “honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” The date was picked because World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, but an “armistice” (temporary end to hostilities) went into effect on November 11, 1918. That’s why we celebrate on November 11, and that’s why the holiday was originally called Armistice Day. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 and became a way to pay respect to American veterans of all wars.

Operation Surf

Speaking of Veterans Day, it’s a good time to mention our friends at Operation Surf. OS is a globally recognized surf program designed to change the lives of wounded war heroes – one wave at a time. Fellow Central Coast local surfer Van Curaza and Rodney Roller founded the organization in 2009. Van started surfing the same way I did, and at the same place; we both rented canvas surf mats from the little rental concession under the Avila Beach pier. Van took surfing a lot further than I did…he was a pro in the mid through late ‘80s, and has definitely ridden his share of big waves. Check him out charging Mouse Rock during a big winter swell…


(Photo Credit: Mike Jones)

The mission of Operation Surf is to build veterans’ self-esteem and self-efficacy through surfing, ocean education and sharing the surf lifestyle. The program’s unique curriculum helps our military heroes gain mentorship, fond memories and lifetime friendships. Van summed it up when he told me, “our goal is to help our wounded military heroes leave Operation Surf thinking that they are in control of their world, not the world in control of them. The focus is on what you can do, not what you can’t.” 

Now 55, Van battled addiction in his younger years. He considers himself very fortunate to have gotten help when he needed it most, and Operation Surf has been a way for him to give back. “This world needs more empathy,” Van said. “I said ‘yes’ when someone asked me for help.” Based on honor, integrity and transparency, Operation Surf attracts veterans from all over the country to help them heal from the pain and trauma of war. Week-long sessions are held each year in Santa Cruz, Huntington Beach and here on the Central Coast of California. And for the past three years, Corwall, England has played host to a week of Operation Surf!

I invite you to take a couple of minutes to watch this short and very touching video… it shows how Van is using surfing to help so many brave men and women - For more info, the Operation Surf website is

In honor our veterans, Last Wave is introducing the new “Weber USA” tee shirt for a limited time only! Last Wave will donate two dollars for every Weber USA tee sold to Operation Surf, so you will be helping a very worthwhile cause with your purchase! Check it out!

We live in very challenging and divisive times, so enjoy your Veterans Day holiday, take a moment to honor those who have served our country, and live the surf lifestyle!



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